Verona Penthouse / Bricolo Falsarella
Francesca Falsarella, Elisa Bettinazzi, Nicolò Garonzi
Text description provided by the architects. In our design project, to recover a space or a building always means to find in the preexisting structure the prompts for a new beginning. It is not an easy task. You need to look beyond appearances. You need to inspect and remove layers. Sometimes, you need to do that physically. This was the case for the restoration of the Verona Penthouse in the old town center of Verona.
We first demolished all of the plasters. We were looking for something true, something strong. We were looking at the past of the artifact to find some remnants for the future, and there we found them. By removing the plasters, a beautiful rough masonry resurfaced. Just by looking at the stonework, we could tell it was not meant to be left in plain view. It was imperfect, inexact but, for this very reason, authentic, carved by the humble and elegant expressivity of the poor things when they are true (and not the unfortunate result of misaligned narrative expedients).
In the freed space, the brutal force of the stonework pushed us to radicalize the architectonic translation of the functional program. We did not build new walls within the space structured by the masonry. Rather, we compartimentalized the functional program inside new grafts-like devices. Thus, the original walls entered into an intense dialog with the new elements, which were crafted using highly authentic materials capable of engaging with the poetic roughness of the stone.
A pitch-pine boiserie(minium-colored and burnt) crosses the spaces from the lowered entrance down the living and slides along to constitute a side of the bedroom. Inside it, we find the guest toilet, the laundry room, and the bedroom wardrobes. The surface is uninterrupted and the otherwise indiscernible openings are marked only by some read-lead handles of our own design.
The host bedroom toilet is inscribed within a black, uncolored, sheet metal volume treated with shoe polish. The volume presents different ploys: towards the bed, a big opening is ambiguously divided by a mirror and a polarized glass, which can hamper or offer a voyeuristic view of the bathroom. Towards the bedroom, a piston-driven remote control allows a hide-away TV set to come on stage. Finally, the door is concealed by a mirror that renders the movement between the volume and the boiserie all the more enigmatic. The entrance wall of the living is marked by the iconic presence of two slightly overlapping circles. They were made using different metals (brass and aged iron). This device too aims to conceal the invasiveness of the TV. Upon manual operation, in fact, a sliding mechanism brings the TV screen into view.
Other elements are characterized by a similar tendency to narratively break away with ordinary approaches and reinterpretations in architectural design: an iron gate structures the living back wall and contains a metal kitchen with burnished brass finishing touches. The false ceilings of the lowered parts are in black natural iron plates. Custom furnishings (tables, sinks, beds) are developed using industrial metallic profiles with visible joins.